The murder of a First Baptist Church School teacher remains without leads nearly 15 years later

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – At approximately 3:00 a.m. on August 19th, 2006, police with the City of Charleston responded to the area of 76 Murray Blvd in reference to a vehicle blocking traffic and possible gunshots.

Upon arrival, officers located Clifton Harris Jr. slumped over in the driver’s seat of his car, shot to death. According to a report, the vehicle’s final location led detectives to believe that Harris was attempting to flee from his killer prior to being shot.  

Harris was a respected 5th-grade history teacher at First Baptist Church School. He was known to frequent the Battery during the nighttime hours; in 2006, it was a place notorious for those who felt unable to be themselves in the open. 

Chase Glenn, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, said that back then, there was a stigma around individuals who identified as LGBTQ.

You’re talking about someone who may or may not had a faith that really impacted them and the way that they saw themselves and the way they lived their lives. If you also have to put that up against knowing that you may be gay or that you may be trans. That could be a really scary thing for someone where they may be scared, they may lose their job, that they may lose their family and friends and having that sort of weight can really impact someone.  

Chase Glenn, Executive Director of the Alliance for Full Acceptance  

While some stigmas remain, many who now identify as LGBTQ have found safer places for themselves in the community.  

Glenn said, to put things in perspective, 2006 was before marriage equality. It was before the Supreme Court ruling where Title VII was discussed and some protection against employment discrimination was granted.  

Additionally, he pointed out that the “sort of the cultural lexicon—we weren’t hearing people talking about LGBTQ identity like we are hearing today.” 

Despite the progressive social movements, Harris’ case remains idle since 2016. Lt. Thomas Bailey with the City of Charleston said in a statement that it was then that detectives reexamined the investigative file and sought the public’s assistance. While both the crime scene and evidence were analyzed along with the interviewing of several individuals, they were unable to determine who the suspect was or locate any eyewitnesses to the incident.   

Lt. Bailey said that the tragic murder of Clifton Harris remains a cold case and investigators seek any information about what occurred on The Battery on August 19th, 2006.  

Glenn went on to note that he hopes if someone feels safe now to report any information, they would come forward and that their identity would be protected as much as possible.   

If you have any information that could help police in this case—call Crime Stoppers at 843-554-1111. 

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